Woven into the curriculum at Birchwood School of Hawken is the belief that personal character can become the most vital factor in the success and fulfillment of an adolescent. Emphasis on character development and habit formation is rooted in Birchwood’s philosophy about human nature. We hold that to become fully human is to become virtuous, generally defined by the Greek cardinal virtues of justice, courage, self-control, and practical wisdom. These virtues are organized into two categories:
1. Being just toward self
2. Being just toward others
Beginning in the early grades Birchwood students are taught that they have a responsibility to themselves to develop their own talents and aptitudes. Each child will:
1. Set and maintain goals
2. Develop good work habits and productive attitudes to realize their goals
In being just toward themselves, children will also discover that they possess the habit of self-reflection. They will come to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and identify problems or opportunities that lie before them. Habits of self-reflection will lead to action and achievement. The result of children who are just toward themselves is that they will continually grow and flourish.
Living a virtuous life also has an interpersonal or social component. Personal growth and development will be limited if it is not joined with social responsibility. Birchwood teaches that a virtuous child is a child who has learned to be a compassionate and productive member of society. Birchwood students will understand the “role” they need to play among friends and classmates, and that personal fulfillment goes hand in hand with healthy and productive social participation.